To My Awesome Readers,

Finally, finally, finally -- The In Search of Squid Website has relaunched! Come check out the new website at:

www.insearchofsquid.com


Please, be sure to change all bookmarks, links and "favorites" to reflect the new URL.

I'm so excited to share the new site with you!!

xoxo,
Heather Rae
You may have noticed that since I quit my job, I have actually been posting LESS to my blog.  Or, perhaps, I think rather highly of myself, and in reality, you haven't even realized this fact.

But I've noticed.  And it's bugging me.

So I thought I would check in, and give you an update of what's been going on.  I've been working.  I just haven't been writing as much as I would like.  I have, however, been putting in hours in this rather crazy attempt to redesign my blog.  It's been a fun project; I'm learning SO much.  I just didn't realize exactly how much time it would take to redesign my blog and move my site to another platform.  This weekend (today included) I'm entering what I fondly call the "Blog Redesign Marathon".  I am determined to get this thing done by Sunday night. 

Come Monday morning, I'm going to have a fabulous new place for you to visit -- a new site, a new community in which to search for squid.  Yay!  I can't wait to share it with you.  Until then, I hope you'll be patient with me and my lack of posting all those random thoughts that (I hope) entertain and sometimes inspire.

Have a great weekend, everyone!
January is over.  The month for making resolutions, themes and goals for the year is thus complete.  But wait!  I'm not done daydreaming. 

If any of you are like me, if you want to keep planning and scheming and dreaming up your adventures for the coming year, then I encourage you to do just that.  It's not too late to dream the big dreams for 2010!

I was inspired by Ms. Molly over at Stratejoy when she posted her list of 20 Things to Do in 2010.  So I'm joining the fun - I'm making my own list.

First things first, I came up with a few things that I value this year, the things that I want to be able to look back and say, "Yep, that's the kind of year I had!"

So here they are.  I want my year to be full of adventure, brimming with creativity, seriously healthy and all sorts of connected.

Here's some insight on how I plan to do it!

---------------------

Be Healthy:
  1. Take an intro lesson at a rock climbing gym
  2. Take a cooking class that focuses on healthy foods (bonus points if I get Steven to join me)
  3. Learn to do the splits (is this healthy or just an attempt to return to my 3-year old, seriously flexible self?)
  4. Master the Experienced Beginners level of my pole dancing class and move on to Intermediate classes
  5. Train for and complete a half marathon
  6. Make plans to train for a bicycle century (maybe even do it this year!)

Be Connected:
  1. Host a dinner party
  2. Make successful chocolate souffl├ęs at least once (and share then with someone special)
  3. See Bon Jovi in concert with my fun-fabulous friend, Mireya
  4. Volunteer with an organization that focuses on women's issues (Planned Parenthood, perhaps?)

Be Creative:
  1. Get a digital SLR camera, and take an intro course in digital photography
  2. Create 5 art pieces that I absolutely adore
  3. Redesign the In Search of Squid website
  4. Complete the final draft of my novel
  5. Get an agent!

Be Adventurous:
  1. Go skinny dipping
  2. Soak in a hot tub in the snow (better get on this one!)
  3. Get pictures taken on a beautiful beach in Maui by my favorite photographer
  4. Take a trip to a U.S. state that I've never been before
  5. Take a month long, solo trip out of the country
---------------------

Looks like I've got a busy year ahead of me!  How about you?  What's on your list this year?

photo credit: soartsyithurts
As I posted on Facebook last week, I seriously have the most awesome friends.  I've been so surprised and amazed by all the support I've gotten as I've started this new journey and officially left my day job.  Holy crap, can you believe I actually did it?

Part of me thinks I'm just on vacation.  I'm sure I'll be back to work next Monday.  Except, I won't.

Scary thought.  But super, super exciting.

So here's where I'm at this week:  OMG, it's seriously hard to focus!  Yes, I know, it's only my first week away from the job.  It's just that I had this fantasy that I would wake up first thing Monday morning with the sunrise, have some breakfast, then immediately get to work on the laptop.  I figured by today I'd easily have five blog posts written, worked on my website redesign and been deep into the next chapter of the novel.

Um, that's not exactly how it's worked out.

I've written two blog posts (and that's only because I forced myself to actually sit down today and do something productive).  I've read a whole heck of a lot about website design but have yet to actually do anything with that knowledge.  And I haven't even cracked the novel.

Yes, I'm embarrassed to admit this.  But it's true.  And I suppose if I really want to hold myself accountable, I should fess up.

The reality is, Steven came home last Thursday after having only seen him two days out of the last five months.  We've been spending all our time together (and rightfully so).

Perhaps the idea that I would leave work on Friday, welcome Steven home, then start my writing career bright and early Monday morning was a bit unrealistic.  Who am I kidding?  It was seriously unrealistic. 

So I'm spending this week figuring out how my days should look.  Pardon me if my posting the rest of this week is a little - scattered.  I'm working on it.  I'm sure I'll have it all figured out by next Monday.  Ha.  Or, at least, I'll be getting closer.

But, for some exciting news - my very first post is up at stratejoy.com.  Be sure to swing over and check it out!  I'll be writing for them every week, posting on Wednesdays.  I hope you'll join the conversation and leave comments.  I love comments.  But you all know that, don't you?

Until next time, here's to living the life!

photo credit: Stuck in Customs
In this latest read, What I Talk About When I Talk about Running, Haruki Murakami shares his tales of life as a runner and novelist.  Murakami shares how his perspective on life has been molded by his experience as a distance runner.  He talks of how he came to writing (truly just an idea he had one day while at a baseball game) and how through writing, he came to running.  The reader follows him through his training for the New York City Marathon and picks up stories of his life along the way.

I thought this book was a fun read and pretty fast to get through; though, I'm not sure I would call it a must read.  If you're into running or into writing, I think it's definitely worth taking the time to check it out.  If you're not into either, well, you might enjoy it or you might not.

Here's what I liked about it: 

First, I haven't attempted running in quite a while.  After I finished the Los Angeles Marathon in May 2009, I pretty much gave that up.  But reading this book totally took me back to the experience of training, and I started to feel nostalgic.  I'm actually thinking of going back to the sport and perhaps training for a half marathon in the near future.

Murakami talked about his first experience running a marathon, and I loved that he mentioned his emotions after nearing the end of the race.  He reached a certain point and found he was just mad -- not for any clear reason.  He simply felt angry.  I can totally relate to that.  I had a similar feeling after mile 22 that I seriously just wanted to yell at people.  So much so, that I actually found it funny.  It was nice to hear I'm not some crazy person and someone else has had this experience too.

And last, I loved his story of becoming a novelist.  After running a successful nightclub/bar for several years, he decided to sell it, close shop and devote himself entirely to writing.  He figured that if he wanted to write, he should give it his all and really find out if he could make it.  Lots of people told him he couldn't and thought it was crazy that he leave a successful business.  But he did it anyway.  And he was an incredible success.  Stories like that are always an inspiration.
Yes, that's right -- only five days left sitting at this desk!  I'm ecstatic.  I've never been a lover of Mondays.  But I must say, this might be the best Monday yet.

Although I've had a few freak out, I-can't-believe-I-just-quit-my-job, moments -- it all actually feels really good.  For the first time in my life, I don't have a plan.  I mean, I have goals and projects I'll be working on, lots of things to keep me busy.  But I don't have my usual step by step plan for mapping it all out.  I have an idea of my desired end result, but I'm not at all sure how I'm going to get there.  And you know what?  I feel great.  As a matter of fact, if nothing turns out quite as I expect, I am completely okay with that.  Somehow, I know that just by taking this step, I'm moving toward a place that I actually want to be.

For me, that's HUGE.  You see, I'm a worrier.  I worry about everything.  Seriously, there have been days when I've wondered if I should be on medication.  It can be that bad.  But for once in my life, I don't feel like there's any reason to worry.  Maybe when something is really, really right -- you just feel it, you just know it.

I can honestly say, at this moment in time, I'm doing exactly what I should be doing.

So what are some of the things I'll be working on next?  Once the day job is over, I'm going to start work on my blog redesign project.  So much fun, so much learning and so much creativity involved -- I love it!  I hope to have the new and improved blog up and running by the end of February, mid-March at the latest.  I also plan to do a lot of writing.  I'll be working on the novel -- woohoo!!  And I'll be guest blogging over at Stratejoy, talking about my experience as I leave the traditional work world behind.  I'll be sure to keep you in the know as to when my first post hits - should be the first week of February.  I'm making a 20 Things for 2010 list, that I'll be posting here shortly, to make sure I get the most out of this incredible year and the opportunity I've taken to break out on my own.

I can't wait to share it all with you!

photo credit: clickflashphotos
I've been reading a lot of books lately that are rather serious and maybe just a little depressing.  So with this next book, I purposely picked one that would simply make me smile.  The Pleasure of My Company by Steven Martin is the perfect book for anyone looking to read a meaningful story that also makes you laugh out loud.

And, yes, the author is that Steve Martin.  I was surprised.  I knew he wrote for TV and film, but I didn't realize what a really good writer he actually is.

Daniel Pecan Cambridge, the main character, is plagued with obsessive compulsive disorder.  His world is full of neuroses that impact nearly every facet of his life but stop short of defining him.  He is somewhat obsessed with women, fears curbs, must control the wattage of the light bulbs in his home and yearns for the comfort of magic squares and counting.  All this is turned upside down one day when his therapist-in-training, Clarissa, lets him into her life as a single mother. 

The book is based in Santa Monica, CA, not far from where I actually live, and I must say, Martin's description of the City is superb.  At one point, he depicts it as, "a perfect town for invalids, homosexuals, show people, and all other formerly peripheral members of society.  Average is not the norm here.  Here, if you're visiting from Omaha, you stick out like a senorita's ass at the Puerto Rican day parade."  Now, seriously, who doesn't love description like that?

Definite thumbs up on this book.  It's fun and quirky and takes you for an unexpected ride.
I realized something over the weekend.  For the past few weeks, I've felt frustrated and a little bummed that I have such a hard time being open with people.  I tend to be a bit introverted, shy and very private.  Because of this, I often struggle to tell people what's really on my mind (well, except for Steven -- poor guy thinks I have no filter).  But lot's of other people get the watered down version of me, and I've been working hard to change that (sometimes I'm more successful at this than others).

And then it hit me.

There are A LOT of people that are exactly the same way.  Yes, yes, I know.  This should be obvious, right?  Well, shoot me, I got a little wrapped up in my own world and forgot this fact.  Even outgoing, extroverted, unrestrained people often have issues with being totally open -- saying what's truly on their mind rather than some version of that truth.  People often delay dealing with situations head-on.  They stall.  They avoid.

And so I've come to the root of what's been bothering me.  True, it does frustrate me that this type of openness doesn't come natural to me.  I have to work at it.  But what's even more frustrating, is when I put the effort in to be totally open, and I don't get the same in return.

I really, really wish we would all learn to be open with each other and deal with issues head-on.

I know it's unrealistic to expect everyone in my life to place this same importance on being open.  We all have priorities, and we're all on a different arc of growth.  I accept this.  And, actually, just being aware of this is helping tremendously.

But, for future reference, in case any of you were wondering:  I would really prefer you to just tell it like it is.  Don't be afraid to be totally open with me.  I swear, I don't bite.

photo credit: wiccked
I took a step back this week, and I realized something:  a little perspective goes a LONG way.

My mind has felt a bit chaotic the last few weeks.  I wrote on Monday about my insecurities, my stresses, how I need to learn to accept and let go.  What I'm coming to realize is that the idea of accepting and letting go also includes accepting myself -- flaws and all.

Yes, sometimes I don't say everything I would like to say to every person that crosses my path.  No, I'm not the most open, outgoing person you'll ever meet.  And you know what?  That's 100% okay.

I see my weaknesses for what they are, and I attempt to make changes when change is good.  I'm not perfect.  I never will be.  But, overall, I'm pretty damn happy with who I am.  Sometimes I'm bold and opinionated, other times I'm quiet and introverted.  I kind of like that.  If you don't like it -- suck it.  (Ha-ha.  Okay, perhaps that's a bit harsh.  You get the point though.)

Steven mentioned something his tennis coach used to say:  if you focus on improving your weaknesses, the best you can hope for is to become a good player; if you focus on improving your strengths, you've got a good chance at becoming a great player.

In other words, you get what you focus on -- don't you think it's best to focus on the good stuff?

So I'm relaxing a bit -- taking a moment to appreciate where I'm at.  All in all, things are good.  My relationship is strong.  I'm fortunate to leave my job in the midst of a recession without much stress.  I'm good with my money (hence, the without much stress part of that last statement).  I've got kick-ass friends, lots of interests and lots of exciting stuff planned.  So what if I'm a little quiet, don't always speak my mind and have the occasional doubt?  Hey, I'm working on those things!  In the mean time, I think I'll kick back and enjoy the ride (at least until the next time I decide to have a small breakdown in a public forum).

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” --Marcus Aurelius

photo credit: stuck in customs
There are days when I feel like I know exactly what I’m doing. And then, there are days when I feel totally out of control. Okay, out of control is probably a little severe. What I really mean is that I feel confused, maybe a bit stuck.

I sometimes wonder why I so often seem to face the same life issues over and over. Why don’t I just learn from past mistakes and move the heck on? Again, I’m overstating this. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s go with that. So, why not?!?! Why do I seem to revisit the same issues in my life over and over and over again?

Perhaps we’re all just more experienced versions of our childhood selves, and so we continue to have the same weaknesses and the same strengths. And rather than accept those things in ourselves and learn to use them to our advantage, we attempt to change ourselves. People tell me I should be a certain way, act a certain way, feel a certain way. Sometimes I listen to them, and I try to be everything that everyone wants me to be.

When will I learn? When will I be completely happy and comfortable just being myself?

I was talking with one of my best friends over the weekend about acceptance. She said she’s finally at a place in her life that she’s willing to just accept what is, and she felt this fact was helping her to really enjoy life and simply have fun, rather than stress over every little thing.

I can totally relate to that sentiment. The ability to accept what is and simply let go of the need to control everything -- well, it frees you.

Those of you who know me know that I’m not particularly good at accepting and letting go of control. Sure, I’ve managed this in some areas of my life. But, in others, I kind of suck at it.

I’ve been feeling this way a lot lately -- like I’m a wadded up ball of stress, and my need to control and understand every situation has my brain going haywire. I need to accept the fact that sometimes I don’t understand, sometimes I don’t know all the details, sometimes it’s okay to just be me and forget about what anyone else may think of that. Sometimes I need to speak my mind without worrying about the outcome. Yes, sometimes, that is completely, 100% okay.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Some people are good at it. Quite frankly, I’m not.

So that’s where I am today.

(When I sat down to write this, I had no idea what I was going to talk about. I’ve had a lot on my mind and have been at a loss for words to express it. It always amazes me the things that come across my fingertips on this keyboard.  I wonder what I'll be thinking about tomorrow.)